I'm really questioning how good this chapter is... I definitely think it needs some refining. However, it's been too long since chapter 4 I feel, so I thought I should at least give you what I've got. Any comments, criticisms, and otherwise helpful feedback will be looked at and taken into account, so that I can edit this thing.
So please, if you want better quality from me than this... thing that I'm posting as a chapter, review
I was still sitting down on a rock roughly two hours later, simply watching the pair, dumbfounded. Really, can you blame me? The deadliest and fastest of all known dragons, the only one never seen, let alone killed, was barely twenty metres from me. And just in case that wasn't surreal enough, Hiccup was playing with it. Or was Toothless a he? Certainly didn't seem like a she to me...
It was... bizarre, in every sense of the word, to see Hiccup using a shield he'd apparently left down here, to reflect the light he was standing in to make a small spot of light; one that Toothless was vigorously trying to catch with his paws. (I think. I'm not entirely sure what they should be called...) He looked so... harmless. Well, at least I knew how he'd distracted that Terrible Terror. Although there were still a few other incidents I wanted to ask him about.
But I contented myself with simply watching him, seeing how the two of them played together. Eventually, without my even realising it, my thoughts drifted, losing coherence, and I fell asleep.
"Astrid? Hey, Astrid... C'mon, time to wake up..." I moaned at the voice, trying to roll over to get away from it. Unfortunately, I was still on the same rock that I was earlier, and it didn't have terribly much room on it.
"Oof!" I let out a sharp breath, the sudden impact jarring me out of unconsciousness, and into reality, dazed and confused.
"Wha- Wher-" Was my initial (and as usual, very intelligent) response.
"Astrid," I heard Hiccup's voice through my befuddled state.
"Go away!" I grumbled, lashing out, hoping to hit him, but it seemed he'd expected the attack.
"Come on Astrid, you need to wake up. Toothless isn't a very patient dragon." Now that got my attention.
I shot bolt upright, eyes wide open. "What about Toothless?" I asked him hurriedly. And a bit nervously. I definitely didn't want to end up on Toothless' bad side. It didn't require much of an imagination to guess that anything on his bad side would resemble the catapult tower after the most recent raid: utterly ruined.
"He kinda wants to meet you, in his way."
"Whaddya mean, his way?" I certainly didn't like the hidden emphasis. I didn't know what it was implying, and that fact wasn't exactly reassuring.
"Well, I introduced you earlier, but he seems to have his own way of greeting for the first time. It might just have been me, but he kinda brushes his nose against your palm."
"I am not letting that thing put it's mouth anywhere near my hand!" I yelled hysterically, without giving any thought to the actual dragon.
I heard a tremendous snort of what sounded almost like derision. Looking past Hiccup's shoulder, I quickly figured out that Toothless was definitely feeling a bit contemptuous towards me.
"Can you blame me?" I snapped at the creature, bravado stemming from Odin-Only-Knows-What. Fortunately for me, Toothless didn't take offence at this, seeming almost to shrug his haunches in reply.
I sighed. If the deadly dragon wanted to say hi to me, how could I really refuse, given that I was very much in a life-and-death situation?
"Oh alright," I moaned. "I'll say hi to the great big fire breathing lizard! Why not? Invite a couple of Nightmares while you're at it!"
"Astrid," Hiccup said, a bit reproachfully. Definitely a new experience for me. Hiccup being reproachful towards me. "C'mon, he's not really all that dangerous. I'm the one who shot him down, for Thor's Sake, and he forgave me!"
A very fair point.
I tentatively walked towards the jet-black reptile, my hands cautiously extended, fingers splayed out. He simply sat back on his haunches and waited for me to get closer. When I was about half an arms length away, however Hiccup said "Astrid, stop there."
I stopped instantly, fearing that I'd done something wrong. When I looked over at him in the corner of my eye, he simply smiled a bit and said, "He likes to make the last move." I looked back to find Toothless staring straight at me with these really (And I mean really big green eyes. They were even greener than Hiccup's.
I found myself unable to hold that gaze, shameful as it sounds, but I freely admit it. There's something about trying to hold a stare with a dragon, particularly one as intelligent as Toothless, which you simply can't stand against. I don't know how to describe it, neither does Hiccup. But something about their eyes forces you to break eye contact with them. It's unnerving at best and downright scary at worst.
I almost collapsed with relief when Toothless gently touched my open palm with his snout. I'd been unable to block the images in my head of Toothless deciding to just chomp off my hand and render me harmless.
Hiccup was snickering at me in the background, but I honestly couldn't care less; at that very moment, I was touching the creature most feared by all Vikings, with no weapon, no shield, nothing, and we weren't harming each other.
That might seem trivial to you, but to most Vikings, the idea is terrifying. We've been raised to fight, kill, in some cases fear, but overall hate dragons of any kind. And when you've been exposed to the sort of legends surrounding a creature like the Night Fury, you sort of build up this mental image of teeth, claws, wings, a mouth to blast fireballs from, and nothing else. Occasionally a few dozen eyes, what with it having perfect aim.
So touching a Night Fury on the nose, right above it's mouth, is a pretty fear-inducing idea.
When I lifted my head up again, I found those great big eyes staring at me once more. But this time, I held their gaze.
"Hiccup," I said weakly, once he'd helped me climb back out of the cove. "Hurry up and finish off that gear to fly Toothless. But rig the saddle for a passenger would you?" I grinned slightly. "'Cos I'm not letting you fly that thing unless I'm on him too."
His answering grin was almost enough to make me faint, dizzy and disoriented as I already was. "No problem Astrid," he replied. "Welcome aboard." He stuck his hand out to me, and instead of brushing him off, I took it.
The next few days were both eventful and uneventful. There was no further dragon training; for now at least; but Hiccup had taken my 'request' thoroughly to heart and by the next day had obtained enough leather for a decent extension to the saddle and to make a second harness. I quite enjoyed watching him stitch the new leather onto the saddle, seeing firsthand the talent for needlework I'd been told he had.
I'd brought my axe down into the cove with me on the second day, so whenever I wasn't just watching Hiccup stitch the new leather together (Or play with Toothless, or feed him, etc...) I practiced a little. Nothing big, just a few exercises to maintain my wrists and swing control. You wouldn't think so, but wielding an axe can actually be quite a delicate business. You have to maintain a precise control over the axe or you could easily lop off your own head.
It became quite awkward later on in the day when Hiccup needed to take my measurements to make the new harness. I wouldn't have been bothered by it at all. (After all, he was taking the measurement off my back and would use those results to estimate the rest. Although I admit that Hiccup measuring my waist had me blushing slightly on its own.) But Hiccup became really flustered and it was impossible not to start blushing furiously myself.
As soon as the harness was made the next day, I couldn't help but try it on to see if it would fit alright. Not only did it fit perfectly, but Hiccup managed to finish the extended saddle that same day! He really was far more hard-working than anyone ever gave him credit for.
Despite all that happened during that rather turbulent time, what happened on the fourth day is something I don't think I could possibly forget.
Another cliffy. I'm so evil...
Well, not much to say everybody. But I do have one thing:
Hope you had a merry Christmas! And Make sure you have a good New Year!